Title: Ready, Set, Grow
Rabbi Ori Strum
What do we have in common with instant noodle soup? As it turns out, a whole lot! Instant noodle soup is already prepared; you only need to throw it in a pot with hot water and it’s ready to be eaten. Our neshamos also come down to this world “precooked;” we already have a connection to Hashem; we just have to pour in the “hot water” of Torah to activate this connection.
Have you ever noticed that no matter how big or small a fire, firefighters always come in their full gear and with all their equipment? They are equally committed to fighting fires of all sizes. In Parshas Eikev, Rashi describes how certain mitzvos that appear small get stepped on. But just as firefighters have the same level of preparation and dedication for all size fires, we have to fully commit to all size mitzvos; we don’t actually know which mitzvos are greater than others.
Ever heard of autocorrect syndrome? Many of us have become accustomed to relying on autocorrect, which automatically catches grammar and spelling mistakes when sending messages; the receiver of the message never knows the mistake even occurred. Unfortunately, it’s easy to walk around with autocorrect syndrome, thinking that in life, it’s okay to mess up because no one will ever realize we made a mistake if we just move on; autocorrect will just take care of it. But Judaism teaches that when making a mistake, autocorrect can’t just erase our past. One has to face the mistake, learn from it, get back up, and grow from it.
These are just a few of the nuggets that can be found in Ready, Set, Grow. Written in conversational tone, Rabbi Strum connects everyday occurrences, personal stories, historical facts, and even word etymologies to lessons that can be found in the Torah.
The book is divided into five sections:
- Battle between the yetzer hara and yetzer hatov: reframing the yetzer hara’s role. If we use the yetzer hara properly, it can serve as a guide, pushing us in our growth.
- Torah as an antidote to the yetzer hara: why should we use Torah to help us fight the yetzer hara?
- Resolve: Get Up and Grow: putting Torah into action as a battle weapon against the yetzer hara. What happens when we fall? This section discusses how to get back up, build resilience, and rise above human nature.
- Greatness: This section discusses making a unique contribution that only you can make, and believing in yourself.
- Connecting to Hashem: bringing the knowledge that everything comes from Hashem from the head to the heart. This includes solidifying one’s relationship with Hashem, having a positive impact through bechira and tefillah, as well as internalizing that all of our actions, both big and small, make a difference.
This is a great book to use when preparing a dvar Torah or learning with a chavrusa! It’s also a book that you can’t just read once through. Another nugget from this book – every time you look at a diamond, you always see something that you did not see previously – even if you have seen this diamond a million times! This is a mashal for Torah – every time you learn the same material, you find something new – no matter how many times you have learned the material.